Jon and I have been writing love notes back and forth. Cute right? well they turned into a short story writing exercise, and last night, after a long day in the city, we came home and had a 30 minute write off.
We had a website randomly generate two characters, a setting and a plot device (reason). Below is my short story. Jon’s can be found on his blog.
a dependable 58 year old woman
a decisive 28 year old man
setting: cruise liner
40 years. It’s been a short 40 years since I’ve seen these sorry excuses for humans. Not that I was top of my class, or that I have had a better life than them. But I like to think I’m better, at least in perspective, at least in outlook. They all easily succumbed to the easy life. Marriage, children, stable jobs. I took the rough path.
But here I am, vomiting in a toilet the size of a sauce pan, on a cruise ship, waiting for my 40 year high school reunion to happen.
I hate ships. I hate the water. I can’t swim. What the fuck do I think I’m doing here?
I’m going to get a drink. A $15 dollar drink mind you. They charge out the ass for everything here.
With the back of her hand, Donna wiped the vomit from the corner of her lips, and reached for her tank top. Sliding it over her swimsuit she looked in the mirror. Her body was long and muscular, weathered and used well, no sign of tenderness. Her thinning bleach-blonde hair reached past her shoulders. Tan and wrinkly, saggy, sun-faded, I’m like my old Chevy. I’m rusting. It had been 40 years since she saw the father of her son. The only man she ever had sex with. That was why she was here. That, and because she had never been on a boat before. Donna whispered her mantra to herself in her head, repeating it like a verbal security blanket, to wrap herself in and protect her from the strangers on this ship. Fuck the pieces of shit from high school, you’re better than that, fuck them, fuck them, fuck them…
Donna climbed up the narrow stairway from her closet-sized room and walked onto the deck. A man around her age in a pale blue polo walked towards the door she had just exited from. He stared intensely as he approached her and stopped about 5 feet away. “Sandra?” He asked as he visually prodded her features. “Sorry, no,” Donna replied. Fuck, people here are going to recognize me eventually, she thought. “Oh, I’m sorry ma’am” he said has he took a closer look and shook his head. “You looked like you could be one of my high school classmates!” He cheerfully grinned and rambled on, and as Donna tried to maneuver away, he kept her with his gaze. “You see,” he explained, though Donna needed no explanation “it’s our 40th year reunion for our high school.” Oh brother… “Oh, well I hope you and your friends have fun” Donna nervously squeaked and dashed off. “Have a good vacation!” He yelled after her.
At the bar, a young man awaited his opportunity. It will come to you, just wait. It will come… Repeating this to himself, he sipped gently on his bourbon, though he hated the taste. I’d do anything for a good beer, even a PBR would do. But he paid $20 to look cool on a cruise ship, waiting for his prey, hoping his bait would work.
Dressed well, but not overdressed, Brent had tight denim jeans with a pink collared shirt tucked in. He wore a gold cross around his neck on a small chain. He wasn’t religious, but hell, this is America, fake it until you make it was his motto. Blake pondered his surroundings and how he got here as he tried to swallow the stinging alcohol. Finding a sex partner is easy, finding someone who will do anything for you is harder. He licked his lips and straightened his back on the stool. A cougar approaches. He grinned and waved as a slender woman came up to the bar.
Donna walked toward the bar area, taking long quick strides. Gin, neat. Gin, neat. I just want a gin, neat. A young man waved at her. Donna remembered her son. Lying drunk in a ditch, poorly influenced by his mother. Scrambling to pick up his toys when he was young, so she wouldn’t beat him as hard. Dead on the road, the accidental killer of two young students. Drunk, like her. Abused, like her. Hard exterior, like her. Queer, like her. But dead.
Donna shook these thoughts and approached the bar tender. “Gin, neat” Donna commanded to the pretty brunette bartender. She showed too much perky cleavage for Donna’s tastes. “Lemme get that” said the young man beside her with an annoying grin. Donna wanted to smack it right off of him. He flashed a wad of cash and cheekily smiled at her. Donna almost protested to get rid of him, but instead accepted, hell, she didn’t have cash to throw around. “Sure, fine. But you don’t get anything from being kind to strangers,” she growled at him. “Thanks,” she said to the bartender and grabbed her drink and strode away.
That didn’t go according to plan. I thought older women wanted to be sweet talked and have their drinks bought. Blake sat in a perplexed daze for a second before deciding to go after her in the lounge. As he moved to get up, the bartender grabbed his arm, he hadn’t even said more than a few words to her, but she had been watching him, eyeing him. After 10 years on a cruise ship, she knew people pretty damn well. “Don’t you fuck around with that one” she said with a mean look in her eyes. “I know fuckers like you. You’re making a mistake.” She was warning him, but Blake, young and decisive, thought he knew better. “Please,” he puffed up and straightened his collar “I am more than capable of reeling them in.” Blake grinned and stood from his stool, trying to look macho. “Take your sassy bourbon drink and get the fuck away from my bar” she spat. Blake did just that.
The young man was walking towards her, Donna noticed out of the corner of her eye. She sat in a lounge chair around a small table; another lounge chair faced her. She could have picked a better spot, more isolated, she realized in hindsight. What the fuck does this asshole need, a blowjob? He seems desperate. Blake came towards Donna and smiled.
“Is anyone sitting here?” He gestured to the opposing chair. Donna didn’t know how to respond. “No, but if you’re asking if you can sit there… well…” she trailed off. Fuck, I need to be more harsh. He sat down. Fuck. Donna knew he was suspect, of what she couldn’t tell. “I just wanted to apologize for earlier” he started “I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to get in your pants, you see, I’m just trying to do something nice for someone.” He blabbed on.
Donna hated people that did this, just, talked, like she cared. She didn’t. “I came here to find myself you know? To be a better person, to get closer to nature,” he continued. Bullshit, this is the furthest from nature. 2000 people on a boat, eating and shitting on a 2 square mile steel prison? No, you don’t come here to get close to nature. “I think I want to be a better person, but I don’t know how,” he kept on and on. “You seemed a little stressed, I wanted to do something nice,” he smiled a broad, inauthentic grin. “I didn’t mean to seem like I was trying to get anything from you, but I must admit, you seem lovely.”
Donna was not enjoying herself, listening to this fake fuck talk. Reminds me of my classmates, she thought, some of whom were in the room with her, ignoring the ugly old woman, looking as out of place as could be, tattoos lining every square inch of her tan wrinkly skin, except her face, which was tattooed with sorrow. Donna rose out of her chair, uncomfortable. “Well, I’m glad you cleared it up.” She was terse, and felt rude for it, but knew this had to stop. She could be his grandmother, and she wasn’t into dudes anyways. And he had this creepy aura. She couldn’t shake that. His gaze was impenetrable…
“What room are you in?” He asked. Wow. Forward, huh? “I just want to know where I can find someone who understands you know?” His accent was childish, his words were not well thought out. He sounded like a pre-teen. “No,” Donna said. “I’ll find you,” she said as she bored into his head with her dark grey eyes. His were light green, and ugly.
Donna finally forced herself to find herself at the high school reunion. So far, people kept asking if she was Sandra. Did people forget that Sandra died of a drug overdose right after high school? These geezers with their posh lifestyles have the privilege of forgetting. I do not. Donna figured it was the tattoos that people must have associated with her. She had none in high school, she looked so different. Demure, cute, and innocent. She wasn’t, but at least she looked that way.
Things changed though. People did. And there was her old flame, the father of her now dead son. Talking to that young fucker who bought her a drink. Fuck. Donna thought. This was not an ideal scenario. She made up her mind and started walking over to them. Might as well kill two birds with one stone.